Monthly Archives: November 2012

Taking a few days off

Sometimes in life..things happen.  Sometimes you just need to take a few days.  I am generally a busy person. I do various things throughout the day that usually end up filling the day.  This particular day is just going to be video day at our house.  Wednesday I had an outpatient heart catheter ablation.

The procedure was suppose to be simple. Find the problem ablate it, heal, live life.  Yeah, well not so much. He knew exactly where it was suppose to be..it wasn’t there..hunted around, found it.  It was too close to the main pulse of the heart to ablate.  He wore out my heart it seemed trying to make it act up.  Since it would not, he left it alone and presented me with plan B.  I’ve had two episodes since I’ve seen him (not bad ones, but still)  and since we haven’t caught any on an EKG, he implanted me with a memory stick type device.  Hurrah….. this is suppose to monitor my heart and if I have an episode I can record it with a remote.  So still in a lot of pain.

A friend sat with me yesterday and I’m on my own today.  I can’t do anything strenuous or lift anything heavy for a week.  It also puts a damper on homeschooling.

In my life, I usually roll with the chaos and things end up working out anyway, but it’s always nice to have a planned inconvenience. 😀  Knowing my surgery was going to be Wednesday allowed me to prep ahead of time. I did all the laundry, cleaned my house, had the kids train on things I usually do that now they would have to do (like dishes, feeding the chickens, and making some sort of dinner) and gave me time to blog ahead.  🙂 Gotta love the post scheduler!

What was also nice is that, because my house is a team effort, I was only really responsible for cleaning the kitchen and part of the bathroom in the first place.  That means most of my house stays clean even if I’m down with a cold or in this case surgery.  My plan for this blog is to post 5 days and take the weekend off.  This will also work well for me when Spring and Summer are here because the weekend is even more busy.

Make sure, no matter what you do, that you remember to take a day once in a while.  Don’t sweat the small stuff.  Designate the big stuff to lighten your load.  Rome wasn’t built in a day. Homesteading is baby steps towards a more self sufficient lifestyle.

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Chicken Veggie Soup

Since I just showed you how to make a big pot of broth, I thought I’d tell you a recipe that uses all of that crock pot worth. This is a very light soup and is great a day after a huge feast like Thanksgiving or when your sick and not wanting a heavy meal.

Eventually as you become comfortable homesteading, you will be using everything you’ve grown, raised, and made to do this recipe except mushrooms and oil. You can grow mushrooms but I haven’t had success yet 😦  You can also substitute turkey in this.

Chicken Vegetable Soup

2 tsp Olive Oil

2 c. Cooked Chicken

2 c. Chopped Cabbage

2 c. Sliced Mushrooms

1 diced onion

1 tsp chopped garlic

1 tsp basil

1 tsp black pepper

8 c. Chicken broth

In a sauce pan saute cabbage, onion, garlic, chicken, mushrooms in olive oil until cabbage is soft. Add basil and pepper, cook 2-3 minutes. Add chicken broth and simmer.

( A lot of times I will put all this in the crockpot and then put on low for 2-3 hours instead of simmering on the stove…did I mention I love my crock pot? 🙂  )

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Making broth

One of the first things you should know as a homesteader is how to make broth.  Broth comes in very handy and is chock full of good stuff!  It’s super easy to make and honestly you will kick yourself for not doing it sooner. First things first, in order to make a great stock you do have to save some things first.  Remember the point of a homesteader is to use as much of what you have so you don’t end up throwing away “money.”

When you buy veggies you always cut off the bottom and then most of the time the tops of celery, carrots, onions.  Save those. Scrub them up a bit so they aren’t super dirty and place them in a freezer bag marked broth scraps.

When you buy a whole chicken at the store, thighs, or drum sticks you also want to save the bones.  I usually use a whole chicken because I can cook it in a crock pot and peel off the meat. The other bones like thighs and legs you have people usually eating off them..and well eww 😕  Once you peel all the meat off the chicken carcass then you can put that in freezer bags also if you don’t have time to mess with it right then.

Ok so now you have your veggie scraps and you have chicken bones. That’s all you need, well sorta 🙂  (BTW you can use any bones…pig, cow, deer it just makes different flavors of broth and on those you want to braise the meat on the bones first in the oven then add them.  I prefer chicken stock to all others for some reason so that is what we will make today.)

If you don’t have a crockpot..buy one..seriously.  The crockpot is the busy homesteaders friend.  Take your crockpot and add your veggie scraps, about a handful is good.  Next add 1/4 c of apple cider vinegar.  Believe me the vinegar makes the difference.  The reason we add this is because vinegar is an acid. It will “eat away” at the bones and pull out the calcium and other minerals in the bones.  Next add your bones and fill the crockpot full of water.  Then add a bay leaf, and some spices. I like to use pepper, parsley, garlic powder, thyme, basil, and sometimes italian seasoning.  You need to add salt so add in about 2 tsp of it and wait to add more till later.  Now the easy part..let that cook on low for 24 hours.  So make your dinner, peel your chicken, put it all in the crock and by that time tomorrow you will have stock to make a soup for dinner! 😎 Cool huh!  You can do this more than once on your chicken bones but I have found that the flavor isn’t there as much with a second batch.

(Some people add chicken feet to gel their stock…I figure one of two things..1. eww chicken feet and I just can’t bring myself to use them and/or 2. You are shopping at a store for chicken at this point because you are just starting out on this venture and they don’t sell chicken feet 😛 )

So let’s break it down into a recipe shall we?!

Chicken Broth

1 chicken’s worth of bones

1 handful or so of veggie scraps

crockpot

1/4 c. Apple cider vinegar

1 bay leaf

2 tsp salt (to start with)

1 tsp of pepper (to start with)

2 tsp of thyme

2 tsp basil

2 tsp parsley

(italian seasoning or any other spices of your choice)

Place chicken bones, apple cider vinegar, and veggie scraps into a crockpot. Fill with water. Place in spices. Cook on low for 24 hours. Stir and taste, add salt and pepper to finish it off to your taste.   When finished Strain off the broth, place in freezer containers and freeze or use right away.  ( I freeze them in 2 cup increments because most recipes will call for 2 cups.)

There you go..now after your first batch you should feel like a true homesteader 😀

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How to start Homesteading- Part 2

This is part 2 of the simple things you can do to start homesteading.  I tried to think of things that would be minimal money but would save you in the long run…so here we go….

6. Work your house as a team.

This I’m sure sounds odd.  If you have children that stay at home during the day you have many hands to help you do your work.  Make sure your children know that your family is a team.  Even if your children are at school all day you can have them do chores.  I know it sounds simple but if Suzy swept the floor, Bobbie did the dishes, Blake straightened up the living room…what’s left?  The kitchen is always what I do for my chore. My children trade chores each week.  One child will sweep and straighten the living room, dusting if needed.  The other child feeds our cats, puts dishes away, and cleans the bathroom sink.  They are each responsible for their own rooms as well. So I clean the kitchen and clean the rest of the bathroom..not bad.  That frees up a lot of your day time to do other things..if your not cleaning you can be outside gardening!

7. Make your own laundry soap.  This is super simple and saves a lot of money.  You can make 9 gallons for the same price as buying one container of Tide.  It takes a little time, but in the long run it is way worth it.  The recipe is simple.  1 C Borax, 1 C washing soda, 1 bar of felphs-naptha, 2 1/2 gallons of water.  That’s it.  Grate the bar into tiny pieces, melt it in hot hot water.  Mix borax and washing soda in a 5 gallon bucket until dissolved. Pour the melted soap in and stir.  Let sit overnight and stir again in the morning.  The smell of the naptha will not be in the clothing once it is washed.  Wash in cold water, put vinegar in your rinse cup instead of buying downy and then hang your clothes out. You’ve saved half the amount of money you used to use when you used Tide, hot water, and downy.

8. Change your pans to cast iron.

Cast iron is an all around good choice.  These pans will last you way longer than teflon and are more durable than stainless steel.  The trick is learning how to season them and how to use them.  The beauty is that once you learn how they are extremely useful. You can cook outdoors with them, you can cook on a wood burning stove, you can pop them in the oven, and they cook normally on a range too 😉  They have an even heat and stay hot longer than most pans which means you can turn off your burner (again saving money) and finish cooking your meal. To season your pan use fat..animal fat..bacon grease, butter, lard, or shortening, rub a generous amount in and around the inside of the pan and bake it at 300 degrees for one hour. Then turn off the heat and let it sit in the oven until it’s completely cool.  You may have to do this more than once. When you wash your pans do not use soap, simply scrub the pan clean.  The more you use your pan the better it becomes.  You will still have to season the pan occasionally but if you spray cooking spray and wipe it around before you put it away it will help keep the season on it.  They make pans in all sizes.  I’m currently working on the switch and have three sizes of frying pans and now a dutch oven. Next purchase is a sauce pan.

9.Find a network of like minded people.  If you are a member of a church, you will be amazed on how much they can help you with what you need.  If you don’t have a church hunt up the Amish in your area.  Networking is the single most important thing.  Homesteaders barter with each other because that is a more effective way.  Let me give you an example of how networking has helped. My garden one year did great on green beans but did poorly on corn.  We eat corn all winter. I happened to mention to a friend that my corn piddled and she said she had lots left in her garden and it would go to waste so I should take it.  I didn’t pay anything for it and we had enough corn for the winter.  People have canning jars, extra veggies, fruit trees, and many other things you might need one day.  Most of the time you can get these for free or little money. Some will let you trade an abundance of what you have or will accept work in exchange.  We are all here to help one another and what one person does for your one day, you might be able to do for another later.

10. Learn a skill.

Almost everyone likes to either knit or crochet. There are other trades like sewing,spinning wool, blacksmithing, pottery, or tanning hides.  Crocheting and knitting are probably the easiest to learn besides sewing.  Learning a new skill can do nothing but benefit you.  Learning these things shouldn’t be hard if you have your network of people.  My mom taught me how to crochet. I now crochet my own dish cloths.  I bought a spool of yarn for 1.79 and can make two dish cloths. That is cost effective. They last longer than store washed ones and are cheaper than a “good” store bought one.  I’ve learned to make blankets and scarves which comes in handy.  Knitting is great to learn too. Scarves and hats are easily done.  You’ll probably like one over the other so focus on the one you like the most but try to take the time to learn both.  Keep adding to your skills by learning what you can when you can. Eventually you will learn things that will help you become self sufficient and that will lower costs.  Right now I’m working on tanning hides and my children are learning  to blacksmith.

This is just the tip of the iceberg but I hope this list has helped you get a jump start on homesteading.  Happy Homesteading!!

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How to start Homesteading- Part 1

So first I want to start by saying that before you start, you should make sure that one income will support the entire family.  Make sure this is what God is calling you to do.  Where there is God calling, there is a way.  You can make it work, but it may not be easy.  I am here to help you start. Maybe these things will make enough of a difference you can actually make the leap.

There is no wrong or right way to start homesteading but I thought I would give a sort of top 10 of what you can start with. I say “think Amish”

1. Get a cloths line.

This may seem like a given to some but to others this is a great way to start. Quit using your dryer unless it’s raining.  Not only will the clothes smell fresh but it will save you money by not using electricity or gas.

2. Cook from scratch.  If you get into the habit now of not buying everything packaged then you will be on your way.  You will save money if you make meals from scratch.  You can prepare big huge pots of chili and other soups and freeze them.  Then you have ready made meals for when you don’t have time to cook.

3. Take an inventory of your yard and find a place to grow vegetables.

Many plants don’t take up much room and they will save you money rather than buying them at the grocery store.  A good plant to start with is the pole green bean.  You can plant them next to anything it can climb on like oh say the clothes line pole you just put up 😛  You can use t-posts,an  old twig placed into the ground, or even have them grow on a piece of lattice next to the house.  They produce a lot on one plant.  Another easy plant is a tomato plant.  You can grow them in 5 gallon buckets on your patio or right outside your front door.  When you plant them in a bucket place a stick in it as well about 3 feet taller than the bucket so you can tie the plant up. Lettuce grows well when its colder and will grow in window pots in your house or along the front of your house.  Use your imagination and come up with some unique ways to grow your own veggies.  Do an internet search for “big gardens in a little space” or something like that.  There are many ideas out there.

4. Make a budget if you haven’t already and find out how much you spend on certain things.  Cut back where you can.  Sounds like this shouldn’t be in homesteading but I assure you a homesteader knows what sucks money out of their pocket and what makes or saves them money. Instead of a home phone with internet and all the package perks, cut back to just internet.  Instead of paying att and verizon $100+ a month find out your usage and see if you can go with straight talk or tracfone.  Instead of having the $40+ package for dish or direct tv cut out that service totally and get netflix and an antenna.  You will be far too busy to watch all those shows anyway eventually 😉

5. Find discount grocery stores.

 There are certain stores that specialize in dented cans and crushed box foods.  Ask around in your area to see if you can find them.  They often time have food that is perfectly good but because Walmart doesn’t like dented cans on their shelf they send them to another company.  That company sells banana boxes filled with dented and crushed items to little mom and pop discount stores.  A box of mac and cheese might be 25 cents. A can of progresso soup might be 50 cents.  Cans of corn and green beans might be 40 cents. Boxes of cereal might be $1.25 instead of $4.  This is will save you a ton of money.  Remember cereal is good 6 months after the expiration date, Pasta pretty much doesn’t expire, and beware of cans you can push down and it move..it’s not good.

Tomorrow I will post 6-10 on getting started….make sure to check back!

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Homesteading..what it means to me

Homesteading sometimes gets a bad name.  “You’re not turning Amish are you??”  Well no but kinda lol. Homesteading to me is kind of like back in the Little House on the Prairie days.  You had Pa who went to work all day and then you had Ma.  She stayed home with the little ones. She taught them to cook, clean, sew.  She still bought things at the store but they also raised animals for various purposes. Things were made from scratch and they used all they had. They survived using very little money because back then money was used for important things. It’s like being a stay at home mom, but much more involved.

Homesteading shouldn’t be scary.  I know it’s overwhelming at first but you just use what you know and build from there.  Back in the day, they used what they had and made it work.  If you live in the city, that doesn’t mean you can’t be a homestead kinda person.  It simply means your homestead is very very small.  It doesn’t mean you have to live on 30 acres in the middle of no where with only solar power and you never go to the store.  You can learn a lot about homesteading by reading Proverbs 31 10-31. Even if you’re not a Bible reader bare with me.  I have I guess used this as a guide without realizing it. Let’s break it down into today’s relevance.

Epilogue: The Wife of Noble Character

10 [a]A wife of noble character who can find?
    She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
    and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
    all the days of her life.

Well what I get from that is we are worth our weight in gold. The most valuable thing to us is our family and our husband and let’s face it…without him we couldn’t live our life the way we are called. We would have to work to pay all the bills and then homesteading gets a lot harder. It’s a team effort. (You can still homestead if you are single, but it is extremely hard work without anyone helping financially.)

13 She selects wool and flax
    and works with eager hands.

We may not be selecting wool and flax but we are conscious of what we buy and select what is needed carefully.  We are eager to do new projects we think will help our family save money.

14 She is like the merchant ships,
    bringing her food from afar.

Most of us drive for the best deals, we coupon, we price match with ads, we travel to distant Amish or Mennonite stores because they have bulk and it will save us money in the long run.  We bring our food from afar if we do not grow it ourselves in our backyard.

15 She gets up while it is still night;
    she provides food for her family
    and portions for her female servants.

Night is not quite when I like to get up, but there are days when I have so much to do that if I don’t get an early start I won’t get it all done! We feed our family many meals..and don’t we all wish we had female servants!! I’m still working on that part. 😛

16 She considers a field and buys it;
    out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.

It may not be a field but if we think it will help us to make things easier and less expensive..we buy.  Make wise decisions..will that purchase be a vineyard or would it be a patch of weeds.

17 She sets about her work vigorously;
    her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
    and her lamp does not go out at night.

This is pretty much self explanatory  We make sure everything is done that needs to be done and we make sure bills are paid and that we have enough to continue living.

19 In her hand she holds the distaff
    and grasps the spindle with her fingers.

Never be afraid to learn something that could potentially help you.  I don’t know how to spin wool..but it would be fun!  I do however know how to crochet and that can make a blanket my friend.

20 She opens her arms to the poor
    and extends her hands to the needy.

Never be so busy that you don’t do things for the needy.  We cannot possibly eat all the eggs that our chickens produce.  I bring them to church.  Let me just say that there are not enough eggs a week to fill the need of some of the congregation members.  I never keep track of money because some do not have enough to simply buy eggs.  What you do as a blessing for someone will come back to you in the long run.

21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
    for all of them are clothed in scarlet.

I take this to mean we make sure in the winter the family doesn’t freeze to death.  I am the one who lets my husband know if we need more wood. I am the one going out after he’s cut it and stacking it. I carry it in, I stay up all night making sure the fire is going and if it’s too cold I take measures to ensure the family is warm.

22 She makes coverings for her bed;
    she is clothed in fine linen and purple.

Ok here is another one I must still be working on because honestly most days I’m clothed in sweats and a tank top lol and I most certainly do not sew enough to make coverings for the bed.  There are many people who quilt or knit or crochet and well I guess I make blankets so it covers the bed.

23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
    where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.

Raise up your husband in public. Let people know that he works hard all day so you can stay home. Let them know you couldn’t do it without him so that when people see him they are proud of him.

24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
    and supplies the merchants with sashes.

If you can make money with homesteading you are ahead of the game.  Bringing in an income on any level is helpful.  Bringing my eggs to church doesn’t provide money for all the feed but it does at least half. That saves us money. If you can grow a garden and sell produce enough to buy seeds next year..that is awesome.  Find ways to make a little with what you do.

25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
    and faithful instruction is on her tongue.

Please make sure to laugh at what life throws your way.  Everything is not going to go as planned..laugh and have fun. Be strong and hold on even though things may seem tough for a while. No one said it is easy. There were days when Ma fell asleep on her rocker by the fire with sewing in her hand.  Don’t be afraid to instruct your children in what you need done. You are a team and you all must work together.  Teach them what you learn and let them help you along your way.

27 She watches over the affairs of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:

This is self explanatory also.

29 “Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.”

Let that build you up. It’s hard work homesteading. Thinking, planning, preparing, executing the plans…Don’t let anyone tell you that you don’t do anything all day.

30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

Keep your heart, mind, body, and soul pointed towards God. He has called you to be this strong woman, keeper of the home. God is the only thing that will outlast all others.

31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

I constantly get told, “I cant believe all you do at home!” “I could never do what you do.”  “How do you get everything done?”  It’s amazing what you can do when you are not focused on all you have to do, but all that God has a purpose and a plan for you.

Categories: Homesteading, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Introduction

Hello everyone!

I have been blogging for about two years now off and on.  It’s really hard to find time because I am so busy making my mark in the world.  I hope you enjoy my blog and I look forward to hearing from many of you. I hope that I can share my homesteading experience as I go, give you some great ideas, and also get some great ideas from all of you.  I hope this blog will be a blessing to you all and I promise to find the time to blog as much as I can 🙂

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